How many adults does it take …

… to change a battery?
Answer: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
It was a simple enough request. Could we take a moment to help our friends change the battery in their home security system.
They had tried and tried but couldn’t do it, they said. She’s 86 years old and he’s just a couple months shy of turning 100. But they’re far from feeble. Sharper in many ways than we. Maybe this just required a bit of finger dexterity they no longer possessed.
Anyway, how hard could it be?
“Slide the keyboard up and out.”
Those were the instructions for revealing the battery.
After 20 minutes of pushing, poking, prodding, flipping over, flipping back, repeating all of this, searching for screws (“remove screws if applicable” was also in the directions; there were no screws), and jokes like “do you have a sledge hammer,” I gave up.
And called my wife.
She’s by far the more techno savvy of the two of us.
One look at the apparatus and she knew exactly what to do: call the 800 number.
I hate calling the 800 number. For one thing, it sounds like giving up. For another, it never gets you anywhere. Except, perhaps, the express lane to Frustrationville.
Against my better judgment, I reached for the phone.
No surprise, a machine answered.
“By the phone number you are calling from I take it you are calling about the security system located at …” the computer voice began and then rattled off the address of our friends. Now we were getting somewhere.
“State the problem you are having.”
I did.
“State the problem you are having.”
I did. More s-l-o-w-l-y.
“State the problem you are having.”
I did. As though I were talking to a two-year-old.
“State the problem you are having.”
“Battery,” I shouted. “BAT-TURR-EEE!”
“You are having a problem with the battery? If this is correct say yes.”
“Yessss!” I screamed.
“For instructions on changing the battery … ” Eureka! I grabbed a pen … “go to …”
And the computer voice gave me a web address.
“If you wish to speak to a technician, please stay on the line.”
You bet I wished to speak to a technician.
The computer hung up on me.
So I went to the website.
After much searching, and never finding the exact model my friends owned, I did find a spot where I was able to type in our problem.
“For assistance in changing the battery,” it read, “call …”
And it listed the 800 number.
We apologized profusely to our friends, bid them adieu, and came home and opened a bottle of wine.
Our friends said they intended to arm the system, go outside and then break into their own home. When someone from the security system showed up, they would ask him to change the battery.
I think they should just get a big German Shepherd.

Ed Ackerman